10 Tips to Manage Your Reading Material

manage reading material

I love to read. Do you? But it can get away from me sometimes. Have you seen my nightstand or e-reader lately? At this time of year, I love a paper book (beach read anyone?) So to help you (and me) out today I’d like to list 10 ways you can manage your reading material. All these tips are for paper-based reading.

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10 Ways to Manage Your Reading Material

  1. Don’t let magazines or newspapers pile up.  Clip out articles of interest and file them in manila folders that are labeled as to the topic.
  2. If you’re in the habit of lending books to others, write your name on the inside cover, so they’ll be reminded to return it.
  3. A quick way of identifying your books so you can keep books of one topic together is to place colored labels on the spines. Red for business, blue for health, green for psychology, etc.  If they get separated it’s easy to spot them.
  4. It’s faster to browse through books on websites than in bookstores. The largest site is (of course) www.amazon.com. You can search by title, author, and subject.
  5. When photocopying material from books that cannot be marred, write the source on a sticky note that can be removed after photocopying.
  6. Stick a partial pad of sticky notes on the inside cover of any book you are reading so you can easily mark pages and make notes.
  7. If you find you lose your place when reading books due to the bookmarker falling out, use an elastic band.  It keeps the read pages firmly in place and will definitely not fall out.
  8. Keep a folder containing articles torn or photocopied from magazines so you can read while traveling, in waiting rooms, or in long lines.
  9. Every few years, allow your magazine subscriptions to expire. Reinstate only those you have missed.
  10. Read books and magazines with a highlighter in hand to mark relevant ideas and a pen with which to jot ideas in the margin.


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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Juli Monroe on November 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Don’t forget you can do similar things with electronic reading. Clip articles to Evernote from most tablets or your computer. And the new Nook tablets allow you to “clip” articles and save for later reference.

  2. Basic Organization on November 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for the reminder Juli. Yes, tablets make it even easier to manage your reading material. Wish I had one.

    • Juli Monroe on November 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      It’s almost Christmas. You never know what Santa might bring. 🙂

  3. Janet Schiesl on November 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Yes. You are right. And I’ve been good!

  4. Jill Katz on August 9, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Reading material can definitely get out of hand. I am an avid reader and keep track of all the books I have read or want to read on goodreads.com. This also allows me to see what my friends are reading and they can check out my list.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 10, 2021 at 7:28 am

      I never caught on to goodreads.com. I’ll look at it again. Thanks.

  5. Diane N Quintana on August 9, 2021 at 10:20 am

    I like your idea of putting colored stickers on the spine to identify the books by topic! I can see how that would really help sort books quickly.

  6. Linda Samuels on August 9, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I love reading and always have a stack of books (and a few magazines) that are in progress. While there are some books I read cover-to-cover, I tend to rotate what I’m reading depending on my mood. I like actual paper books and haven’t switched to digital ones. There are space saving advantages with e-books plus they are more eco-friendly. However, I don’t internalize the information as well that way. I like the physicality of an actual book and highlighting important ideas as I go. With magazines, I have about four subscriptions. I’m good at getting to them within the month, clip the articles or concepts I want to refer back to, and recycle the rest.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 10, 2021 at 7:27 am

      You have a good system. I like ebooks because I always have a large selection of reading material with me. But I do like a paper book when sitting outside on my patio, so I usually purchase a few in the Spring to enjoy that summer.

  7. Sabrina Quairoli on August 9, 2021 at 11:22 am

    I love the #8 tip: Keep a folder containing articles torn or photocopied from magazines so you can read while traveling, in waiting rooms, or long lines. I love to tear out articles from magazines if I did not get to them after a month. You can even carry an additional folder called “papers to be recycled” so you can remove them from the “to read” folder. Thanks for sharing.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 10, 2021 at 7:23 am

      I used to do this so I wasn’t carrying a heavy magazine for just a few pages of articles that I wanted to read.

  8. Seana Turner on August 9, 2021 at 11:47 am

    I love tip #9! Sort of like a practical way to ask, “Would you buy it again?” by making yourself actually do so. I have cut down on subscriptions quite a bit. A few I still receive, but those are mostly gifts.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 10, 2021 at 7:22 am

      I still like reading paper magazines, but have any subscriptions. I’m going to use Julie’s idea of magazines as a travel treat.

  9. Julie Stobbe on August 9, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    I have started to use the library more and more so books don’t pile up at my home they need to be returned. When it comes to magazines I use them as a travel treat. When I go on vacation I buy a copy of my favourite magazine to take along. My clients become magazine and book collectors instead of readers. I think suggesting some sort of timeline to read it or pass it on would be a good incentive for some people.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 10, 2021 at 7:20 am

      I love that you use magazines as a travel treat. I’m going to do that.

  10. Julie Bestry on August 11, 2021 at 1:07 am

    Great tips, and I follow (and advise) almost all of them. I would use #6, but instead, I make notes in a draft of my book review on Goodreads. This ensures I’ve captured all of the quotes I like, and what I want to reconsider. What do you do with the sticky notes once you’ve written down your thoughts?

    I read so much. I always have at least a dozen books out of the library at a time, and when I started blogging, I had 17 magazine subscriptions. Now I have three! I wish I could say it’s because I pared them down, but I loved reading magazines; over the last two decades, they all stopped publishing!

    • Janet Schiesl on August 11, 2021 at 7:36 am

      I leave the post-its in the book. It helps me find the place if I want to review. Sorry about the magazine world.

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